BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  June 18, 2013

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                                Bob Wieckowski, Chair
                       SB 274 (Leno) - As Amended: May 14, 2013

           SENATE VOTE  :  28-11
           
          SUBJECT  :  Family Law: Parentage

           KEY ISSUE  :  SHOULD A COURT BE PERMITTED TO FIND THAT A CHILD HAS  
          MORE THAN TWO LEGAL PARENTS IN THE VERY LIMITED INSTANCE WHERE  
          MORE THAN TWO INDIVIDUALS MEET THE EXISTING STANDARD TO BE THE  
          CHILD'S LEGAL PARENTS AND NOT DOING SO WOULD BE DETRIMENTAL TO  
          THE CHILD? 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  As currently in print this bill is keyed fiscal.

                                      SYNOPSIS
          
          Legal parenthood can be established in a number of different  
          ways, and as a result, in limited situations it is possible for  
          more than two people to claim legal parentage of a child.  The  
          Family Code provides that where two or more presumptions of  
          paternity arise that are in conflict with each other, the  
          presumption which on the facts is founded on the weightier  
          considerations of policy and logic controls.  A recent Court of  
          Appeal court held that when more than two people meet the legal  
          definition of a parent, a court may recognize only two of them  
          as legal parents.  (In re M.C. (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 197.)    
          This bill, sponsored by Children's Advocacy Institute and  
          National Center for Lesbian Rights, instead provides that where  
          there are more than two people who have established claims or  
          presumptions of parentage under existing California law, the  
          court may recognize more than two parents if the court finds  
          that recognizing only two parents would be detrimental to the  
          child.  This bill is very similar to, though more narrowly  
          tailored than, last year's SB 1476 (Leno), which passed the  
          Legislature, but was vetoed by the Governor because of concern  
          of possible unintended consequences.  The governor requested  
          additional time to consider all the implications of the bill.  

          This bill is supported by the California Judges Association,  
          LGBT organizations, children's advocacy groups and some family  
          law practitioners, who write that the bill "protects children  








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          from harm by preserving the bonds between children and their  
          parents, rather than preventing courts from recognizing that  
          children may sometimes have more than two parents where severing  
          one of these bonds would be detrimental to the child.   
          Recognition of legal parenthood also gives the child the right  
          to support from all her parents, as well as access to health  
          insurance, benefits, and inheritance rights."  Other family law  
          practitioners, while supportive of the bill's intentions, oppose  
          it, arguing that it could harm children who may be pawns in  
          their parents' feuds:  "It does not take much to understand how  
          much worse such conflict would be for the child with three  
          adults, let alone four or more.  Our focus is the child.  It  
          appears the bill's focus is really the adults who feel they  
          should be able to acquire the label/title of "parent." . . .  SB  
          274 proposes what is arguable a virtual 'sea change' in our  
          culture as to the role of a parent and the resulting  
          expectations."  However, this bill, by its very terms, focuses  
          specifically on the interests of the child, by allowing for  
          recognition of more than two parents only if a court finds that  
          recognizing only two parents would be detrimental to the child. 

           SUMMARY  :  Permits a court, in appropriate cases, to find that a  
          child has more than two legal parents.  Specifically,  this bill  :  


          1)Provides that nothing in the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA)  
            should be construed to preclude a finding that a child has a  
            parent-child relationship with more than two parents.   
            Provides that every reference to parent in statutes,  
            regulations, rules, policies and case law shall be interpreted  
            to apply to every parent of a child who is found to have more  
            than two parents.

          2)Unless a court orders otherwise, provides that a presumption  
            of paternity is rebutted by a judgment establishing paternity  
            by another person. 

          3)Provides that, in an appropriate action, a court may find that  
            more than two persons with a claim for parentage are parents  
            if the court finds that recognizing only two parents would be  
            detrimental to the child.  In determining detriment, requires  
            the court to consider all relevant factors, including the harm  
            of removing the child from a stable placement with a parent  
            who has fulfilled the child's physical and psychological needs  
            for a substantial period of time.  Provides that a finding of  








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            detriment to the child does not require a finding of unfitness  
            of any person.  

          4)Provides that in any case where a child has more than two  
            legal parents, the court shall allocate custody and visitation  
            among the parents based on the best interest of the child,  
            including, but not limited to addressing the child's need for  
            continuity and stability by preserving established patterns of  
            care and emotional bonds.  States that the court may order  
            that not all parents share legal or physical custody of the  
            child, if the court finds that would not be in the child's  
            best interest, as provided.

          5)Provides that the statewide, uniform child support guideline  
            applies in any case in which a child has more than two legal  
            parents, and the court shall apply the guideline by dividing  
            the child support obligations among the parents based on  
            income and the amount of time each parent spends with the  
            child, as provided.  Permits the presumption that the  
            guideline is correct to be rebutted if the court finds that  
            application of the guideline would be unjust or inappropriate  
            due to special circumstances, as provided.  In that case,  
            requires the court to divide the child support obligations  
            among the parents in a manner that is just and appropriate  
            based on income and time spent with the child.

          6)Provides that # 5), above, shall not be construed to require  
            reprogramming of the California Child Support Automation  
            System, a change in the child support guideline, or a revision  
            in any Department of Child Support Services' regulations,  
            policies, procedures, forms or training materials.

          7)Permits the termination of parental duties and  
            responsibilities for existing parents of a child to be adopted  
            to be waived by agreement of the existing parents and the  
            prospective adoptive parents.

          8)Makes the following legislative findings:

             a)   Most children have two parents, but in rare cases  
               children may have more than two people who are that child's  
               parent in every way.  Separating a child from a parent has  
               a devastating psychological and emotional impact on the  
               child and courts must protect children from this harm.
             b)   The purposes of the bill is to abrogate the holding in  








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               In re M.C. (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 197, insofar as that case  
               held that when more than two people claim parentage under  
               the UPA, courts are prohibited from recognizing more than  
               two of these people as parents.
             c)   This bill does not change the requirements for  
               establishing parentage under the UPA.
             d)   It is the intent of the Legislature that this bill only  
               apply in rare cases where a child truly has more than two  
               parents.

           EXISTING LAW :

          1)Establishes the California UPA.  Defines a parent and child  
            relationship as the legal relationship existing between a  
            child and the child's natural or adoptive parents incident to  
            which the law confers or imposes rights, privileges, duties  
            and obligations.  The term includes the mother and child  
            relationship and the father and child relationship.  (Family  
            Code Section 7600 et seq.  Unless stated otherwise, all  
            further statutory references are to that code.)

          2)Provides that the child of a wife who is living with her  
            husband, who is not sterile, is conclusively presumed to be a  
            child of the marriage, except as provided.  (Sections  
            7540-41.)

          3)Defines a man as a presumed father if, among other things:   
            (a) He was married to the child's mother and the child was  
            born within 300 days of the marriage; (b) he attempted to  
            marry the child's mother; or (c) he holds the child out as his  
            own.  Requires that these presumptions be applied gender  
            neutrally.  (Section 7611; Elisa B. V. Superior Court (2005)  
            37 Cal.4th 108.)

          4)If two or more paternity presumptions conflict with one  
            another, the presumption that is founded on the weightier  
            considerations of policy and logic controls.  Provides that a  
            presumption of parentage under Section 7611 is rebutted by a  
            judgment establishing paternity of the child by another  
            person.  (Section 7612.)

          5)Provides that paternity may be established by voluntary  
            declaration for unmarried parents, or through a civil action  
            brought by any interested party, as specified.  (Sections  
            7630, 7570 et seq.)








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          6)Provides that domestic partners have the same rights,  
            protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same  
            responsibilities, obligations and duties under law as are  
            granted to and imposed on spouses.  (Section 297.5.)
           
           7)Provides that a parent and child relationship between the  
            child and the mother may be established by proof of her having  
            given birth to the child.  Provides that a parent and child  
            relationship between the child and an adopted parent may be  
            established by proof of adoption.  (Section 7610.)  
           
          8)Outlines factors the court shall consider in determining the  
            best interest of the child, including, among others, the  
            health, safety, and welfare of the child; any history of abuse  
            by one parent or any other person seeking custody against  
            another child, the other parent, a spouse or significant  
            other; the nature and amount of contact the child has with  
            both parents; and any other factors the court finds relevant.   
            (Section 3011.)

          9)Provides that custody of a child should be granted in the  
            following order of preference: to parents jointly; to either  
            parent taking into consideration which parent is more likely  
            to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the  
            noncustodial parent; to the person in whose home the child has  
            been living in a wholesome and stable environment.  Allows the  
            court and the family the widest discretion to choose a  
            parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child.   
            (Section 3040.)

          10)Provides a formula for calculating child support, and  
            provides a rebuttable presumption that the formula results in  
            a correct amount.  This presumption can be rebutted by, among  
            other factors, the fact that application of the formula would  
            be unjust or inappropriate due to special circumstances.   
            (Section 4053 et seq.)

           COMMENTS  :  Legal parenthood can be established in a number of  
          different ways.  A man is conclusively presumed to be the father  
          of a child if he was married to, or in a registered domestic  
          partnership with, and cohabitating with the child's mother,  
          except as specified.  A man who receives a child into his home  
          and holds the child out as his own is also presumed a father of  
          the child.  A man who signs a voluntary declaration of paternity  








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          is presumed to be the legal father of a child.  While the  
          statutory scheme uses the word "father," the presumptions must  
          be applied gender neutrally, so they apply to mothers as well,  
          see, e.g., Elisa B. V. Superior Court (2005) 37 Cal.4th 108, and  
          the Committee's AB 1403 (Judiciary), now with the Senate  
          Judiciary Committee, does just that.

          Because of the presumptions of paternity available under law, it  
          is possible, in very limited situations, for more than two  
          people to claim parentage of a child.  The Family Code provides  
          that where two or more presumptions arise that are in conflict  
          with each other, the presumption which on the facts is founded  
          on the weightier considerations of policy and logic controls.   
          In 2011 a Court of Appeal held that when two or more people meet  
          the legal definition of a parent, a court may recognize only two  
          of them as legal parents.  (In re M.C. (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th  
          197.) 

          This bill instead provides that where there are more than two  
          people who have established claims or presumptions of parentage  
          under existing California law, the court may recognize more than  
          two parents, but only if it would be detrimental to the child  
          not to do so.  In support of this bill, the author writes:

               SB 274 protects children from harm by preserving the bonds  
               between children and their parents, rather than preventing  
               courts from recognizing that children may sometimes have  
               more than two parents where severing one of these bonds  
               would be detrimental to the child.  Recognition of legal  
               parenthood also gives the child the right to support from  
               all her parents, as well as access to health insurance,  
               benefits, and inheritance rights.   Recognizing these  
               families can also reduce the state's financial  
               responsibility for the child because all parents have the  
               obligation to support the child.  In dependency actions, if  
               a child has more than two parents, legal acknowledgment of  
               more than two of those parents may keep the child out of  
               foster care by giving the court more options for placement.  
               . . . 

               Preventing courts from ever recognizing that a child has  
               more than two parents can have disastrous emotional,  
               psychological, and financial consequences for a child, who  
               may be separated from one or both of the parents he or she  
               has always known.  . . .








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               SB 274 . . . gives courts the flexibility they need to  
               protect the interests of children who truly have more than  
               two parents.  It only applies if there are more than two  
               people who have claims to legal parentage under existing  
               law and the court finds that not recognizing more than two  
               parents would be detrimental to the child.  The bill would  
               not apply to a boyfriend or girlfriend of a parent who has  
               been in the child's life for a short time, or to a relative  
               caregiver who provides periodic care.  Rather, it only  
               provides that where there are more than two people who have  
               an otherwise valid legal claim to parentage under existing  
               California parentage law, the court can, but is not  
               required to, recognize more than two people as legal  
               parents of the child if it would otherwise be detrimental  
               to the child.
              
           Establishing Parentage Under the Uniform Parentage Act  :  The UPA  
          was passed in 1975 to extend the parent and child relationship  
          equally to every child and to every parent, regardless of the  
          marital status of the parents.  The UPA defines "parent and  
          child relationship" as "the legal relationship existing between  
          a child and the child's natural or adoptive parents incident to  
          which the law confers or imposes rights, privileges, duties, and  
          obligations."  The term includes both mother and child, and  
          father and child relationships.  Insofar as practical, the UPA  
          is to be interpreted to apply to both father-child and  
          mother-child relationships.

          In 2005, the California Supreme Court found a parent-child  
          relationship in a trio of cases involving same-sex parents, one  
          with a genetic link to the child and two without.  In one case,  
          a woman provided the ova to the other woman who gave birth to  
          twins who were to be raised in the women's joint home.  (K.M. v.  
          E.G. (2005) 37 Cal.4th 130.)  In another case, the court  
          established parentage for a woman who had neither genetic link  
          nor given birth to twins, but who received the children into her  
          home and held them out as her own.  (Elisa B. v. Superior Court  
          (2005) 37 Cal.4th 108.)  In the third case, a couple had secured  
          a judgment that they were the only legal parents of a child who  
          was born to and had a genetic link to one of the women.  The  
          court estopped that woman from disavowing the validity of the  
          judgment to which she had stipulated, thus recognizing the  
          parentage of the other woman who had neither given birth to, nor  
          had a genetic link to, the child.  (Kristine H. v. Lisa R.  








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          (2005) 37 Cal.4th 156.)  None of these cases involved the  
          possibility of more than two parents.
           
          A Court of Appeals Refused to Recognize More Than Two Parents,  
          but Invited the Legislature to Do So  .  The need for greater  
          flexibility in the number of legal parents was clarified in In  
          re M.C. (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 197.  In that case, a juvenile  
          court found that three parents were a child's presumed parents -  
          the biological mother, the child's presumed mother, by virtue of  
          her marriage to the biological mother, and the biological  
          father, who conceived the child with the biological mother  
          during a premarital relationship.  The child was in foster care  
          as a result of the biological mother's involvement in the  
          stabbing of the child's presumed mother.  The juvenile court  
          recognized all three parents, hoping to place the child with the  
          father, but the court of appeals reversed, potentially depriving  
          the child of a loving father, writing that such recognition  
          lies, more appropriately, with the Legislature:

               M.C. and the amicus curiae invite us to employ this case as  
               a vehicle to highlight the inadequacies of the antiquated  
               UPA to accommodate rapidly changing familial structures and  
               the need to recognize and accommodate novel parenting  
               relationships.  We agree these issues are critical, and  
               California's existing statutory framework is ill equipped  
               to resolve them.  But even if the extremely unusual factual  
               circumstances of this unfortunate case made it an  
               appropriate action in which to take on such complex  
               practical, political and social matters, we would not be  
               free to do so.  Such important policy determinations, which  
               will profoundly impact families, children and society, are  
               best left to the Legislature.  (Id. at 214.)
           
          Other States, and Even California, Have Recognized More Than Two  
          Parents in Specific Situations  :  Currently, several states have  
          recognized that there are situations where a child can have more  
          than two people in his or her life with the rights and  
          responsibilities of parents.  In 2007 a Pennsylvania court  
          upheld an award of partial custody to a biological mother's  
          same-sex partner, with partial custody to the biological mother  
          and sperm donor, who had been involved as a parent since  
          infancy.  The court held that all three had an obligation to  
          support the child.  (Jacob v. Shultz-Jacob 923 A.2d 473 (Pa.  
          Super. 2007).)  A Maine court found that a child may have a  
          non-biological, de facto parent with parental rights and  








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          responsibilities in addition to two biological parents.  (C.E.W.  
          v. D.E.W. (Me. 2004) 845 A.2d 1146, 1149-51.)  A Delaware  
          statute recognizes three types of legal parents: a natural  
          parent, an adoptive parent, and a de facto parent.  Under  
          Delaware code, a de facto parent is a person who, with the  
          support and consent of the child's parent or parents, fostered a  
          parent-like relationship with the child, exercised parental  
          responsibility for the child, and acted in a parental role for a  
          length of time sufficient to have established a bonded and  
          dependent relationship with the child that is parental in  
          nature.  (Del. Title 13, Sec. 8-201.)  Similarly, the District  
          of Columbia recognizes that a de facto parent has the same  
          rights and responsibilities of parents.  (DC ST Sec. 16-831.01.)  
           Finally, Louisiana specifically recognizes situations of dual  
          paternity, thus giving parental responsibilities to three  
          parents, the mother, the presumed father based on marriage and  
          the biological father.  (See Smith v. Cole (1989 La.) 553 So.2d  
          847.)  Under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, California is  
          required to honor the acts and judicial proceedings of the  
          courts of these other states.  As a result, California courts  
          will eventually have to recognize court orders with more than  
          two parents.  

          Additionally, California law now recognizes tribal customary  
          adoption, which can permit a child to have four parents.  In an  
          aim to protect both Native American children and their interests  
          in having tribal membership and legal connections to the tribal  
          community, tribal customary adoption provides that parents'  
          rights need not be terminated upon adoption of the child.   
          Accordingly, a Native American child may have up to four legal  
          parents - two natural parents and two adoptive ones.  

          While cases involving more than two parents are, almost by  
          definition, complicated and will require courts to balance many  
          competing interests, courts must already do so today.  This bill  
          simply expands this, in very narrow situations when necessary to  
          prevent detriment to the child.

           The opposition raises concern about the lack of an upper limit  
          on the number of parents permitted under the bill, but the  
          number of cases affected by this bill - and the number of  
          parents that may be recognized in any particular case - is  
          extremely limited by the provisions of the bill itself  .  The  
          Association of Family Conciliation Courts, one of the bill's  
          opponents, is concerned that, while the bill has been revised to  








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          "narrow and limit the number [of parents that a child may have]  
          to some degree[,] there is nothing in the statute which would  
          prohibit the courts from allowing more than three 'parents' for  
          a child, whether at the same time or at separate periods in the  
          child's life."  This bill, however, does not change existing law  
          as to who may be a presumed parent.  To be found a parent under  
          the bill, a person must qualify as a presumed parent under  
          existing law.  Most stepparents and boyfriends or girlfriends  
          will not meet the requirement that they not only take the child  
          into their home, but also hold the child out as their own.  That  
          second part requires telling friends, family and officials that  
          the child is their own - not their step-child, not their  
          girlfriend's child, but their own child.  

          Additionally, existing law anticipates the situation where two  
          or more presumptions of paternity conflict under the Family  
          Code, and provides the following guidance: the presumption which  
          on the facts is founded on the weightier considerations of  
          policy and logic controls.  Courts therefore, under current law,  
          apply a critical analysis to situations where more than two  
          presumptions exist.  This bill does not limit that analysis.  It  
          simply allows courts the flexibility to find that more than one  
          presumed parent can be a parent.  
          
          The bill is even more limiting.  It is not enough to qualify as  
          a presumed parent.  Last year's SB 1476 would have authorized a  
          court to find more than two parents if "required to serve the  
          best interests of the child."  Stakeholders, however, raised the  
          concern that it may not be clear to courts whether to apply a  
          standard "best interests" analysis or the heightened, "as  
          required to serve the best interests" analysis.  This bill now  
          requires that when more than two people have a claim to  
          parentage the court may only grant parentage to more than two  
          parents if the court finds that recognizing only two parents  
          would be detrimental to the child.  In determining detriment,  
          the court is required to consider all relevant factors,  
          including the harm of removing the child from a stable placement  
          with a parent who has fulfilled the child's physical and  
          psychological needs for a substantial period of time.  No other  
          parentage determination considers the child's needs.  The other  
          determinations are all based on the presumed parent's actions.   
          This bill puts the interest of the child above all else.  

          Lastly, the bill states the clear legislative intent that it be  
          applied only in rare cases where a child truly has more than two  








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          parents.  This clear statement of legislative intent will  
          provide guidance to courts regarding the limited reach of the  
          bill and the very small number of cases that will meet the legal  
          requirements for more than two parents.

           Bill Addresses Family Law Concerns  :  While more than two parents  
          may be highly desirable in a dependency case, where more loving  
          parents may help keep a child out of a group home or other  
          foster care placement, multiple parents in a family law  
          proceeding, where warring parents are fighting for custody,  
          could be more troublesome.  This bill addresses that concern in  
          two ways.  First, as discussed above, it allows a court to  
          recognize more than two parents only when it would be  
          detrimental to the child not to do so.  The bill provides courts  
          with guidance on finding such detriment, by requiring the court  
          to consider all relevant factors, including the harm of removing  
          the child from a stable placement with a parent who has  
          fulfilled the child's physical and psychological needs for a  
          substantial period of time.

          Second, this bill recognizes that concern and provides that the  
          child's best interest, including the need for stability for the  
          child, must guide custody determinations.  Moreover, the bill  
          specifically states that not all parents may share legal or  
          physical custody of the child.  While this is true in all  
          custody cases, this statement should provide guidance to family  
          courts to ensure that the child has stability and that if legal  
          or physical custody is shared with too many parents, such  
          stability may be lacking.

           Clarification regarding termination of parental rights  :  This  
          bill also codifies the holding in Sharron S. v. Superior Court  
          (2003) 31 Cal.4th 417 that allowed second parent adoptions.  A  
          second parent adoption is a procedure where a second parent  
          adopts the child without terminating the rights of the existing  
          parent, similar to a stepparent adoption.  Sharon S. held that  
          when a birth mother's partner sought to become a second parent  
          through adoption, the parties may waive the termination of the  
          existing parent's rights under Family Code Section 8617.  This  
          bill simply codifies that holding and applies it to situations  
          where the child may have more than two parents.  
           
           Child Support Guideline Calculation  :  It is anticipated that  
          cases with more than two parents will be extremely rare and very  
          fact specific, and thus can be calculated outside of the  








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          statewide guideline.  This bill provides for that flexibility by  
          specifically permitting a departure from the child support  
          guideline in these cases.  However, this bill still requires  
          that a guideline calculation be completed prior to departing  
          from the guideline, as required by federal law.  To do so, the  
          guideline can be run in a multi-step process that involves first  
          calculating all parents' net income, then running the guideline  
          program with the high earner as one parent and the income and  
          time share of remaining parents combined as the other parent in  
          the program.  The process is then repeated for the remaining  
          parents (with the highest earner excluded), with the highest  
          earner of that smaller group listed as the high earner and the  
          parents remaining as the other parent (with time shares adjusted  
          appropriately).  While this may be cumbersome, it,  
          notwithstanding opponent's arguments to the contrary, produces a  
          child support award using the guideline and ensures that  
          California is in compliance with federal requirements.  

           Similar Bill Vetoed Last Year  :  Last year a similar bill, SB  
          1476 (Leno) passed the Legislature, but was vetoed by the  
          Governor, who wrote:  "I am sympathetic to the author's interest  
          in protecting children. But I am troubled by the fact that some  
          family law specialists believe the bill's ambiguities may have  
          unintended consequences. I would like to take more time to  
          consider all of the implications of this change."  The author  
          and the sponsors have worked with family law attorneys over the  
          last year to tighten the bill and limit any ambiguities of the  
          bill.  Significantly, this bill now provides that all of the  
          rights and responsibilities of parentage arising under state  
          law, administrative regulations, court rules, government  
          policies, common law, and any other provision or source of  
          existing law apply equally to every legal parent where a child  
          is found to have more than two parents.  Thus, this bill  
          clarifies that any source of existing law that is worded to  
          apply to only two parents must be applied equally to more than  
          two parents.  

          Additionally, the bill tightens provisions and provides guidance  
          to courts in finding whether a child has more than two parents,  
          and in awarding custody, visitation, and support in the event  
          that the court has made that finding. 

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :  Supporters include the California Judges  
          Association, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Northern  
          California Chapter, Children's Advocacy Institute, the National  








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          Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, and Legal  
          Services for Children.  In support of the bill, supporters  
          write:

               While most children have at most two parents in their  
               lives, some children have more than two people who act as  
               parents in every way.  Courts face a diversity of family  
               circumstances, but state law has not adapted to the reality  
               of those circumstances.  For example, state law has been  
               interpreted to prevent courts from ever recognizing more  
               than two people as a child's parents.  This inflexibility  
               can have disastrous emotional, psychological, and financial  
               consequences for a child who is separated from a loved one  
               he or she has always known as a parent.  Courts need more  
               tools to protect the best interests of children.

               SB 274 protects children by recognizing the bonds they  
               share with their parents and the legal and emotional  
               security those bonds provide.  Recognizing legal parenthood  
               gives a child the right to support from his or her parents,  
               reduces the state's financial responsibility for the child,  
               and keeps children out of foster care by giving courts more  
               options for placement.  Likewise, if a family is in  
               distress, otherwise legally valid parental relationships  
               should not be artificially severed and the already-at-risk  
               child should not be placed in foster care when there is a  
               legally satisfying alternative: another parent available to  
               care for the child.  

               SB 274 is particularly important to the LGBT community  
               because of how LGBT people become parents and build  
               families, which can involve any combination of blending  
               families, adoption, fostering and assisted reproduction.   
               On occasion, this can be present situations where  
               recognizing more than two legal parents is the best way to  
               protect the best interest of the children involved and  
               their relationships with the people they have always known  
               as their parents.

               SB 274 does not change the definition of parenthood, or  
               allow temporary caretakers to be considered parents.  It  
               merely provides that when evidence shows that more than two  
               people meet the existing legal definition of a child's  
               parent, the court may recognize those individuals and their  
               legal obligations if recognizing only two parents would be  








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               detrimental to the child.

          Adds the Children's Advocacy Institute:  "Children need parents,  
          period.  If what we as a society care about when adjudicating  
          parentage is honoring the bonds that bind children and their  
          parents, ensuring the child stays out of foster care, and - most  
          of all - conforming our laws and legal processes to what is  
          'required to serve the best interest of children,' then our laws  
          should not arbitrarily prevent judges from being able to use  
          their judgment."

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :  The Capitol Resource Institute writes  
          in opposition:  "Children thrive in consistent settings and in  
          homes with their biological mother and father, or with adoptive  
          parents, being male and female role models.  This bill only  
          serves to appease the adults and would cause chaos in the life  
          of the child."
                   
          The Association of Family Conciliation Courts - California  
          (AFCC) begins their opposition by noting the author's and  
          sponsors' efforts to address AFCC's concerns from the previous  
          year and agrees that "the language in the bill is much improved  
          over that of last year's bill."  That being said, AFCC is still  
          strongly opposed to the bill.  The organization writes:

               We know how much a child can be, and often is, impacted by  
               the conflict among the adults.  We know how bad that  
               conflict can be with only two parents . . . . 

               It does not take much to understand how much worse such  
               conflict would be for the child with three adults, let  
               alone four or more.  Our focus is the child.  It appears  
               the bill's focus is really the adults who feel they should  
               be able to acquire the label/title of "parent." . . .  SB  
               274 proposes what is arguable a virtual "sea change" in our  
               culture as to the role of a parent and the resulting  
               expectations.   . . .

               We are convinced that this bill will be used primarily by  
               heterosexual adults, mainly stepparents and grandparents.   
               This bill is not just about handling current consensual  
               situations, but represents a change in the legal landscape  
               of "parenthood" and people's expectations and legal  
               opportunities. . . . 









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               Children do not need the conflict that often results when  
               two parents separate and disagree.  They certainly do not  
               need the conflict exponentially enhanced/increased as  
               adults vie for a portion of their time and attention.   
               Children are entitled to spend a good portion of their time  
               with friends, at school and should not have to worry about  
               having their time shared with multiple (as in three or  
               more) adults who cannot agree on who the child should be  
               with, what the child should be doing, where the child goes  
               to school, what sports, what religion, etc.

          The author responds that far from being a "sea change" in family  
          law, this bill "provides a limited approach to allow courts to  
          recognize children who have more than two parents only when  
          needed to protect a child from harm."  In addition he notes  
          that, this bill is not focused on protecting the rights of the  
          adults, but "to the contrary, it is focused on the needs of  
          children and may only be applied when necessary to protect a  
          child from detriment."

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support  

          Children's Advocacy Institute (co-sponsor)
          National Center for Lesbian Rights (co-sponsor)
          American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Northern California  
          Chapter
          Equality California
          California Judges Association
          Juvenile Court Judges of California
          Legal Services for Children
          Our Family Coalition
          Public Counsel
          Some individuals

           Opposition 

           Association of Family and Conciliation Courts -- California
          Capitol Resource Institute
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :  Leora Gershenzon / JUD. / (916) 319-2334











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